We often hear 1 Corinthians 13:13 quoted: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (NKJV). We’re quick to remember that 1 Corinthians 13 is Paul’s great discourse on love. And Hebrews 11 is the chapter on faith, regularly referred to as the Hall of Fame of Faith.
Have you ever wondered where the chapter on hope is? It’s a strange thing, I know, but who talks about the “Hope chapter” like we throw around the love chapter and the faith chapter? Maybe it’s easier to pick up on love and faith than it is hope, and I’ll get back to that a bit later on. I think I found that hope chapter this week in my devotional reading.
Okay, I’ve got to warn you; we have to call apples, apples, right? So it’s not an entire chapter. But we can’t just pick and choose a couple of verse from this section of Scripture, or we miss out on some of the implications and objects of our hope.
The chapter I’m referring to is Romans 8. Yes, it’s another writing of Paul, but that shouldn’t surprise us too much, right? You might be thinking that this is a rather strange place to find any kind of teaching on hope, and at first glance you’d be right. That’s why we have to look a little deeper. [Verses quoted below are in the New Berkeley Version, if the wording sounds a little different to you. It just happens to be the Bible I’m reading through right now.]
In all honesty, the concept of hope didn’t hit me until I actually read it in the text. “In this hope we are saved; but hope within sight is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we keep on patiently awaiting it” (vv. 24-25).
I realize that at first this sounds a lot like our traditional definition of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). Yet if we take these two together, we see that faith and hope are interrelated, one existing with and because of the other. Now look at that verse in the Berkeley: “But faith is an assurance of what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.” Faith is based in hope, but our hope endures because of faith.
Likewise, our hope lies in something we must take on faith. Listed in Romans 8 are several objects or circumstances that we are to hope for. But we cannot truly hope in any of these unless we first believe in faith that they are for us, whether purely by God’s grace or entitlement through the working of that grace. If we do not in faith lay hold of these things promised, we will not be able to hope in them, because we will instead despair, faint, and give up on those things. If our hope does not endure it is due to a disconnection from faith.
Our hope is tested, as our faith is tested. That is why Paul is quick to include some other thoughts to help our hope endure.
“For I reason that this temporal suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18).
“But we know that for those who love Him, for those called in agreement with His purpose, God makes all things work together for good” (v. 28).
“Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Affliction? Or distress? Or persecution? Or famine? Or destitution? Or danger? Or sword? . . . But in all this we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (vv. 35, 37).
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor authorities, neither present nor future affairs, neither powers of the heights nor of the depths, nor anything else created will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 38).
Something to Hope for
When we put all of this together, we must come to the conclusion that this is really a chapter about hope. For after seeing hope defined for us, after being encouraged to remain steadfast and longsuffering in our hope, we can reread the whole chapter with the blinders removed and see a stark list of what to hope for.
- Freedom from the condemnation of sin
- Life present and eternal through the Holy Spirit
- Adoption as sons/children/heirs of God
- The redemption of Creation and our bodies
- The deep prayers of the Spirit through us, and His pleading on our behalf
- A conviction or assurance in our calling and being made righteous
- A future glory (which is yet to come for those predestined, called, and made righteous)
- That nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, and whatever attempts to do so we conquer through Him
I’ll be honest and say that I could go on for a longer study, but I want to get these basics on hope into your hands and hopefully your heart.
There is something to hope in. We live a world twisted, deranged, and crumbling because of sin and its effects. All around us there seems reason to give up hope. Instead we must hold fast to that which is given to us in Christ Jesus. Partner your hope with faith that God is able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, and with the love that died and was raised again and lives forever for us. Then may your hope endure until its fulfillment.